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How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene School near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska dental hygienist examining patient's teethChoosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Lakes AK is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Lakes Alaska dental hygienist examining boy's teeth

When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Lakes AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:

    • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
    • Applying fluoride treatments
    • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
    • Instructing patients about oral care
    • Taking X-rays and developing film
    • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Training Options

Lakes Alaska dental hygienist cleaning female patient's teethAs a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Lakes AK dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Dental Hygienist Online Colleges

Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Lakes AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.

Find Out More About Lakes Dental Hygiene Programs

What to Ask Dental  Hygienist Programs

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lakes AK, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Lakes AK dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Lakes AK dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Lakes AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Lakes AK dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Lakes AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Lakes AK area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Lakes AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Lakes Dental Hygienist Training

great smile with clean teeth by Lakes Alaska dental hygienistEnrolling in the right dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Lakes Alaska.

 

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